LibriVox recording of Poetry of St John of the Cross by Saint John of the Cross. (Translated by David Lewis.) Read in English by Ed Humpal The poems of St John of the Cross, with their mystic depth and spiritual ecstasy, stand among the world's great poems of Divine Love in all traditions. St John is one of the Roman Catholic Doctors of the Church, was a reformer of the Carmelite Order, and co-founder with St Teresa of Avila of the Discalced Carmelites. Teresa invited John to follow her, and in the protocols of the times, also became her Spiritual Director and Confessor. Many of their individual works could be considered the products of their mutual support and inspiration. - Summary by Ed Humpal For further information, including links to online text, reader information, RSS feeds, CD cover or other formats (if available), please go to the LibriVox catalog page for this recording.
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Saint John of the Cross was a Sixteenth Century writer who used the troubadoric tradition to write verses about his love for God. As he often casts himself in the role of the beloved, and God or Jesus in the role of the lover, the poetry often seems to be written in female voice. There have been some really beautiful performances of his poetry by female singers. Lorena McKennitt’s The Mask and Mirror, for example, contains a really beautiful version of The Dark Night of the Soul.
The Librivox version which I listened to is instead performed by a male reader. Aside from some fantastic poetry, Saint John’s works demonstrate how the idea of masculineness has changed over time. His contemporaries saw absolutely nothing homoerotic about his poems, but to a modern reader, there’s certainly an undercurrent there.